Great Big “C”

Of course the Canadiens need a captain. Someone to show young guys the ropes, a natural-born leader, one the other players can look up to and respect and learn from, on and off the ice. The team went without one last year, but now it’s time.

I can’t wait to see who will be wearing the “C” and who will be joining the the select list of those who wore the badge of honour beforehand – players such as Butch Bouchard, Toe Blake, Maurice Richard, Doug Harvey, Jean Beliveau, Henri Richard, and more recently, Saku Koivu.

All in all, since 1909 there’s been 28 different men chosen as leader in Montreal. And a 29th is coming soon, I hope.

Bob Gainey was named captain of the team in 1981, and the following is taken from “Canadiens Captains” by Michael Ulmer (1996).

“Gainey found the role surprisingly political. At first he was too closely associated with the coaching staff, so he discreetly moved to distance himself from the club’s management and make himself more available to individual players. Still, when a young Chris Chelios or Petr Svoboda needed to be reminded of his defensive responsibilities, Gainey acted decisively.

“Bobby always walked the great line to being a friend when a player needed it and kicking some players in the ass when they weren’t living up to what their obligations were as teammates,” (Doug) Risebrough said. “He had a great ability to teach people and be vulnerable to people. I think sometimes if you’re vulnerable to people, you open yourself up, people have a tendency to give of themselves.”

“I think I can usually touch people somehow. I can make them either comfortable if they’re not or put them on edge if they’re comfortable,” Gainey said. “Each team has different kinds of people. You’ve got your young kids and you’ve got married people and we had different cultures and maybe not initially when I became captain, but in the last five or six years I was able to work in all different groups. If I had to, I could go to anyone’s house and feel welcome.”

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